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Mountaintop Removal in West Virginia

Mountaintop removal is a form of strip mining in which explosives are used to blast off the tops of mountains in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath.

Mountaintop removal is a form of strip mining in which explosives are used to blast off the tops of mountains in order to reach the coal seams that lie underneath.

Photo courtesy of OVEC

Case Overview

Mountaintop removal coal mining, often described as "strip mining on steroids," is an extremely destructive form of mining that is devastating Appalachia.

In the past few decades, over 2,000 miles of streams and headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Americans have been permanently buried and destroyed. An area the size of Delaware has been flattened. Local coal field communities routinely face devastating floods and adverse health effects. Natural habitats in some our country's oldest forests are laid to waste.

On behalf of local and national environmental and community groups, Earthjustice has been in the courts and in Congress to bring the protections of the Clean Water Act to the people, communities and waters of Appalachia.

Case Updates

December 12, 2014 | Blog Post

President Obama Earns "C" on Mountaintop Removal Mining Report Card

The mining industry and its allies have been crying long and hard since President Obama took office, but the other side of the story has not gotten nearly enough attention. The problem is not that President Obama has done too much to regulate coal mining; the problem is that he could do more—much more—to protect the families and communities of Appalachia.

August 27, 2014 | Blog Post

ACHE Act: A Way to End Mountaintop Removal Mining

Coalfield residents living near mountaintop removal mining sites have long suspected this terrible, destructive practice is hurting our health.

I first started thinking about it during the long fight to replace the Marsh Fork Elementary School, which sat at the foot of a huge mountaintop removal mining site near my home in Peachtree Hollow.

July 11, 2014 | Legal Document

Court Decision: Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Efforts To Protect Appalachian Waters and Communities

A federal appeals court sided with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a large coalition of citizen groups in upholding an Obama administration policy to scrutinize pollution from severe mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against the National Mining Association, the State of West Virginia, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and other coal industry groups, who brought the case against the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.

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